A Nova Scotia gourd grower pounded the competition with a super-heavyweight pumpkin that tipped the scales at a near-record 633 1/2 pounds - an international victory he says came without steroids.
Keith Chapel, 56, gleefully denied a mischievous suggestion that he may have used anabolic steroids on his entry to win Monday's International Pumpkin Association World Weigh-Off."Oh, no!" said Chapel, responding to the allegation.
The question came in light of drug scandals that plagued the Summer Olympics at Seoul, including the case of Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, who was stripped of his gold medal when officials found he'd used the banned drug that bolsters muscle building but has many harmful side effects.
Chapel, a schoolteacher when he's not growing pumpkins, spoke over a loudspeaker during an international conference call from Canada, heard on the steps of San Francisco City Hall.
His entry, which competed with plump pumpkins from the United States, England and Japan, won him $2,000 and a trip to San Francisco.
England's 317-pound entry, grown by Ron Butcher, was weighed in a pub, where cries of encouragement echoed across the City Hall steps some 5,000 miles away.
But Japan's Shoji Sjirai wasn't so lucky. His 513-pound pumpkin broke into pieces on its way to the scale. The international contest accepted the 313-pound entry from Hiroshi Sawa, instead.
The largest pumpkin ever grown, according to the 1988 Guinness Book of World Records, was a 671-pound gourd raised by Robert Gancarz of Jacobstown, N.J., in October 1986. It measured 11 feet, 11 1/4 inches in circumference.